book review

Charming and Magical | Our Cursed Love by Julie Abe

Saturday, December 23, 2023

 Our Cursed Love by Julie Abe

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date:  12/12/23
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you, Wednesday Books!)
Julie Abe's OUR CURSED LOVE is a magical 50 FIRST DATES meets LOVE AND GELATO set in Tokyo, Japan―about destiny, the impact of the choices we make, and the magic of true love. Six days to remember. Love or lose him forever. Remy Kobata has always wished she was destined to be with her best friend, Cam Yasuda. All the way from being neighbors from birth to mixing up magical prank potions together to their “just friends” homecoming date during their senior year in high school, nothing’s a secret between Remy and Cam―except for how much she is in love with him. Remy is trying to work up the courage to confess her feelings during their winter break trip to Japan, when she gets selected for a mystical tea leaves reading and it reveals that they’re not meant to be together. After they stumble upon a secret magical apothecary in the back alleys of Tokyo, Remy and Cam are offered an ancient soulmate elixir, created before all love potions were banned by the magical government. They each have their reasons for wanting to take it, but what could go wrong with finding your soulmate a little earlier? Except, after they drink up, their senior year trip flips into the worst vacation Cam has forgotten who Remy is. If she can't help Cam remember her by midnight New Year’s Eve, they’ll both be cursed to forget each other. To unravel their past and rewrite the future, Remy and Cam must travel through Tokyo to rediscover Cam’s memories and make new ones―and maybe even fall in love all over again.
  •  I read The Charmed List last year and found it enchanting, nostalgic, and heartwarming. It was easily one of my favorite books of last year. It introduced a gorgeous, low scale magic system that was both cozy and charming. 
  • When I first heard about Our Cursed Love, I was elated to be getting a companion novel to The Charmed List. I expected the same charm that Abe's magic brought in the first one to be carried on into its companion. And I was not disappointed. 
  • Our Cursed Love is set in gorgeous Tokyo as Cam and Remy take one last vacation together before parting ways for college. The setting feels as alive as the characters do, immersing the readers into the magical story.
  • I adore the friends to lovers trope. It makes a story become familiar and heartwarming. Cam and Remy have been friends forever. And what makes this tale so special is that readers get both of their perspectives. Thus, the slow burn of their friendship to something more is realized throughout each chapter. 
  • The only thing I didn't love was the memory loss element. If I had read the synopsis of the book before reading, I would have realized that after Cam and Remy take a restricted love potion, it backfires and Cam forgets his best friend. The second half of the book is a whirlwind of Cam’s memories of Remy. It changes the initial tone of the book that was once a friends to lovers now turned almost-strangers to lovers, I suppose. The use of memory loss in any story is not my favorite, but I do think Abe uses it well to show the depth of Cam and Remy’s relationship.
  • While it is certainly not necessary to read The Charmed List before diving into this one, the main characters from the book do make an appearance in Our Cursed Love. Ellie and Jack's sweet cameos put a smile on my face. Our Cursed Love follows Ellie's younger sister, Remy, and Jack's younger brother, Cam. Chronologically, the events of The Charmed List happen first. However, it would be fine to read the two in any order. 
Our Cursed Love is as enchanting as The Charmed List. With a cozy romance at its core and the most charming magic ever, this book envelopes readers into a warm hug. You definitely don't want to miss it!

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: September 2023

Friday, September 01, 2023

 Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. September is going to go by so quickly, I just know it. Instead of having a grand summer vacation, I decided to move my plans to September - since it's my birthday month - and I will be traveling for 9 days this month. I am so excited for the trip! However, my reading may suffer because of it so I won't be picking books out of my TBR jar this month. Instead, I decided to focus on some books that have been on my TBR the oldest and see if I can prioritize them this month. Also, I hope to continue in the two yearly readathons I am participating in. September is going to be a great month!

I have had these books on my TBR mountain for way too long and hopefully, this is the month to finally change that! I would love to hear about some of your oldest books on your TBR too, drop them in the comments below.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare: So, I am quite behind in the Shadowhunter world. I have managed to remain spoiler-free on the more recent series and I am excited to dive back into Clare's books. This book is the oldest (in terms of adding it to my TBR shelf) book of my shelves so it's time to finally pick it up!

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead: I knew my TBR was a bit too ambitious last month. I wasn't able to finish this book, the conclusion to Mead's Bloodlines series. Since I am in the middle of it now and enjoying it, I hope to finish it in a few days!

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge: I adored Cruel Beauty! Honestly, I have been waiting for more books from Hodge because I know if I finally read this duology, I won't have any more Hodge books to devour. A new release from her was recently announced for next year, 2024, so I can pick this one up and then won't have to wait long for her next book.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld: It has been a long time since I have read anything by Westerfeld. I have heard that this one plays with structure as it tells two stories - one of a teen author writing a book and the other of the actual book she has written. It sounds cool so I am excited to start it!

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers: Isn't this a throwback to YA fantasy? These books have different covers now but the cover above is the one that I have on my shelves. This is the sequel to His Fair Assassin trilogy.

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye: I remember I found this series in a used book store and it sounded like a really fun fantasy series. However, I haven't heard many people mention this series even when it was first published, so I am excited to give it a go and see how amazing it is.

I have decided to follow these two reading challenges throughout the year. The two reading challenges are BookandLala’s Buzzwordathon and the Year in Aeldia reading challenge from Book Roast. Here are the two books I found that fit the prompts of each of the challenges:

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey (Buzzwordathon: game words): This prompt took some thinking because I couldn't find any books that I would consider game words except the word "game." However, after scouring my shelves, I finally came across "chance" and thought that the perfect word for this prompt!

Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Aeldia: a book with romance): I have adored Rachel Lynn Solomon's books, but I have only read her YA books so I am excited to try out her adult romances, starting with this one. 

What are you reading this month?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Book Covers with Water On Them

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

For today's Top Ten Tuesday, I thought I would share some of the books on my TBR that have water on their covers.  Since spooky season is fast approaching, I decided to feature those books that bring those creepy vibes (though I did include some pirate and siren books too!). Compiling this list, I didn't realize how many books I could find that have water on the cover and are spooky, but there are so many of them. There must be something about ripples in water that lends itself to the scary atmosphere. If you've read some of these, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Book Covers with Water:

Sing Me to Sleep by Gabi Burton
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Defend the Dawn by Brigid Kemmerer

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

The Narrow by Kate Alice Marshall
Lying in the Deep by Diana Urban
The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Have you read any of these books?

book review

So Honest and Lovely | Change of Plans by Dylan Newton

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

 Change of Plans by Dylan Newton

Publication Date: 8/1/23
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley/ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you, Forever!)
In this charming romantic comedy, a hometown hero comes to the rescue of a chef unexpectedly left to care for three little girls—who may end up saving him too. When disaster strikes and chef Bryce Weatherford is given guardianship of her three young nieces, her life goes from cooking with fire…to controlling a dumpster fire. Five‑year‑old Addison refuses to remove her fairy wings, eight‑year‑old Cecily won't bathe, and tween June is majoring in belligerence. With all this chaos, Bryce jettisons hope for a life outside of managing her family and her new job. It's been years since Ryker Matthews had his below‑the‑knee amputation, yet the phantom pain for his lost limb and Marine career haunts him. To cope, he focuses on his vehicle restoration business. He knows he's lucky to be alive. Yet, “lucky” feels more like “cursed” to his lonely heart. When Ryker literally sweeps Bryce off her feet in the grocery store's baby aisle, they both feel sparks. But falling in love would be one more curveball neither is ready to deal with… or is it exactly the change of plans they need?
  • This is the third in a companion series that follows each of the Matthews brothers. While they technically can be read in any order, I do suggest reading them chronologically since there may mild spoilers for certain events that come before.
  • I absolutely adored reading Newton’s companion series, finishing it out with Change of Plans. If you're looking for a lovely contemporary romance that is both heartwarming and a little steamy, these books are for you. They have all the small-town vibes and a romance that will have you smiling from ear to ear.
  • While the small-town vibes certainly brings some added coziness and charm, Change of Plans is also filled with serious and even tearjerker elements. The book follows Bryce and Ryker. Bryce is struggling to find balance ever since her brother and his wife passed, leaving three lovely girls in her care. The elements of grief in this felt raw and emotional. Though readers of the rest of the series have met him before, Ryker reveals sides of his character we have only ever gotten glimpses of in the previous books. As a veteran, Ryker is still trying to accumulate to life after being at war. He suffers from PTSD and night terrors. For a cute contemporary romance, Newton got serious by adding more difficult and hard-hitting topics. While it was a bit darker than her other two Matthews books, I'm glad she didn't shy away from these two characters’ authentic stories.
  • I found that I was taking my time with reading this book, because I just didn't want it to end. Every chapter, every page had me feeling all the feels - ready to cry one minute, while laughing out loud the next.
  • One of my favorite things of this whole companion series has been the mention of real-life places that readers can actually go and experience. Change of Plans, like the rest of the books, is primarily set in Wellsville, New York, which is very real place. Newton also mentions Rochester, New York’s Nick Tahou Hots, a restaurant that I would love to visit in real life to feel even more connected to these characters. Customers of the restaurant can even order a garbage plate just like Ryker and Bryce did in the book! The books are written so well that readers feel like they are walking down the street of Wellsville. It's wildly immersive! 
  • Dylan Newton writes incredibly well. The contemporary romances I've read from her have been so honest and lovely. Newton has quickly become an auto-buy author for me. I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

Change of Plans by Dylan Newton has the best ingredients for a great romance, including an equal balance of heart wrenching and swoonworthy elements. This definitely needs to be your next read. 

Tackling my TBR

Tackling my TBR: August 2023

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. Usually, I choose some books out of my TBR jar. However, this month I will be participating in the Orilium Readathon, hosted by booktuber, G at Book Roast. It turned out to be a quite ambitious TBR for this month so I thought it would be easier to focus on the readathon instead of, also, picking out books from my jar. 

The readathon is a little complicated to explain as participants are tasked with building their own character and then choosing a calling or career path for their character. The number of prompts or challenges vary depending on certain callings. This particular readathon serves as part two of the readathon that occurred in April. The callings I were working towards in April were the Moon Warden and the Star Whisperer. I have decided to continue working toward the two callings. For these callings, there are 12 challenges. Here’s the books (and their challenges) I hope to get to:

For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliot S. Piermont ("Earth" in the title): The only book I could think of to read for this would be House of Earth and Blood, which isn't the best book to read during a readathon since it is so long and I've already read it. Instead, I found this cute children's picture book.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (word in the title that corresponds to the last song you listened to): I listened to Unholy by Sam Smith and Kim Petras on the radio before writing this post up, and while "unholy" could not be found among my books, I picked the closest title. This is the first book in the Something Dark and Holy series, which is how it almost fits in with the prompt. I've heard some mixed thoughts about this book, but am still intrigued to see what the book is about when I start it.

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead (a book from a finished series): I have been slowly working my way through the Bloodlines series, a completed series that follows some the characters from the well-known Vampire Academy book series. 

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman (start a book before bed): This is probably not the best idea since this book sounds very similar to the slasher/horror film, Ready or Not, but I have been wanting to pick this up and I think this readathon would definitely be the perfect time.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (read in a different spot every time you pick up the book): I have been wanting to read this book forever - it's been on my shelves for a long time. Since I plan on highlighting and taking notes while reading, I don't think I will have a problem with moving to a different spot every time I pick this up like at my desk or the kitchen or the couch. This is such a fun prompt!

Lore Olympus volume 4 by Rachel Smythe (manga or graphic novel): This book came in the mail just in time to read for August! I've adored each and every volume before this so I am excited to see where this one leads in this Hades and Persephone visual retelling.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn (the floor is lava, don't touch the floor while reading this book): I absolutely adore the Veronica Speedwell books so I decided that I will continue with the fifth book in the series. I can fly through these books quite fast since they are so entertaining so I'm hoping to finish it within one or two sittings, all without every touching the floor.

Change of Plans by Dylan Newton (red cover): This is a little more orange than red, but I wanted to count it for the readathon. It releases today and I can't wait to dive into it! This is the third installment in the Matthews Brothers companion series, a series of contemporary romances that will simply take your breath away. They are always such a delight!

Rook by Sharon Cameron (a book set in the future): I don't read many books set in the future, since science fiction books are really not my thing. However, I found this dystopian novel on my shelves that I totally forgot I even owned. I am not entirely sure when this is set but it sounds like it may be in a futuristic Paris so I am excited to read it!

Unfortunately Yours by Tessa Bailey (bookseller recommendation): I asked a staff member at my local Barnes & Noble if they had any contemporary romances to recommend and they mentioned Bailey's newest series, A Vine Mess. I actually have already read the first book so I picked up the sequel, which came out recently. I enjoyed the first book, Secretly Yours, so I can't wait to read the sequel!

The Emperor of Evening Stars by Laura Thalassa (use a random tarot generator and find a book with the same symbol in the title or cover): In using the generator, I received the Star Card. There are tons of books with "stars" in the title or cover so I had plenty of options. I decided to go with the third book in the Bargainer series. 

The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle (lily on the cover, in the title, or in the author's name): I don't really know my flowers so I hope the book I chose has a lily on the cover. I've put this one on multiple TBRs and still haven't read it. I'm hoping to close out the summer with some good romances like this one.

What books are you planning on reading this month?